ServiceMax Blog

IIoT and the Human Element: Coping with Disparate Service Requests

The Internet of Things is transforming the world as we know it and the Industrial Internet of Things is enabling us to not only optimize the operational cost and lifespan of machines, but also to offer new business models based not on the product but the outcome it provides.

But the Industrial Internet doesn’t make the act of service obsolete. After all, a human still needs to go out to perform regular maintenance and fix machines if something goes wrong. As you embark on your Industrial Internet journey, you will even likely experience a rise and new patterns in service demand.

Let’s see how.

The demand for service today comes from a variety of sources – some from call centers; some automatically generated from maintenance plans; others originate from your own engineering team as result of system updates, change orders and recalls.

And now, smart connected machines can send alerts all on their own that automatically generate service requests.

But here’s the thing – when machines go down and let you know there’s an issue, it doesn’t mean the customer won’t as well. They’re going to alert you too in their own way (usually involving an angry phone call). It will take a while before we see the human requests completely replaced by the more proactive requests from connected machines.

Think about communication infrastructure. When a storm moves through, many cell towers might experience issues. Various sensors detect anomalies and the analytics software correlates the data with other sources to separate the signal from the noise. The result is an automatically generated service request. The promise of the Industrial Internet as been fulfilled – teams are dispatched, towers are repaired and no one had to report the issue, right?

Maybe.

The nature of these IoT service requests is very different than when humans report issues. These requests can come in sudden swarms, overwhelming dispatchers and support staff who can’t ask the machines questions and get an immediate feedback to triage the situation. At the same time, people affected by the outages continue to call in – their requests do not go away. And dare I mention, the same service teams still have the engineering change orders and the planned maintenance to manage.

The nature of these IoT service requests is very different than when humans report issues. These requests can come in sudden swarms, overwhelming dispatchers and support staff who can’t ask the machines questions and get an immediate feedback to triage the situation.

You also might think that remote monitoring like this will decrease the amount of service requests. That number should decrease as we prevent unplanned outages and downtime, right? Yes, that is the goal. The problem is, however, that the machine-originated request will not displace the requests from other sources.

None of those requests are going away – at least not for the foreseeable future. Hence, the number of requests is likely to grow and change the patterns to which your support groups and dispatchers are accustomed.

As you start adopting the technologies of the Industrial Internet, you need to consider the impact they will have on your service demand. These are some of the challenges we’re looking to solve with our customers as the year progresses.

While the smart, connected machines are beginning to impact every aspect of our lives, we will likely experience a rise in the demand for service before we reap the ultimate benefits – the increase in reliability, throughput and life expectancy.

In the mean time, let’s make sure we are all ready for the new levels of service demand or rather – service opportunity ­– the Industrial Internet creates.